I read somewhere that forcing yourself to smile can actually lift your mood, so I find myself smiling at random times – like right now sitting at my desk, for example, or when I’m sitting at a red light on Euclid Ave that has decided it won’t ever change to green – and the forced smile feels a lot like the one Sheldon Cooper wears when he’s been told it’s necessary for him to fulfill a social obligation that he completely disdains: false and creepy.
I’m not an incredibly social person to begin with. I have a few friends in Minnesota that I text every so often, hang out with even less frequently, and - when the situation is absolutely unavoidable – whom I call on the phone. Back home, I was used to talking to co-workers, living with Daylow, my animals and some tenants. Sometimes I’d chat with the neighbors, and by “sometimes,” I mean when I accidentally made eye contact on my way from the car to the back door. That was the extent of my wild social calendar.
So it’s amazing that out here in SoCal, living in a house with 5 other people, working with the same number of friendly co-workers, and seeing my MN friends with roughly the same frequency (which is and was almost never), I feel so much more alone.
Down the road from my former office building in Minnesota, there was a small sheep farm. Every day during the spring and early summer, the lambs and sheep would rotate from one quadrant of the farm to another, presumably for grazing purposes, and they all looked just the same. Just a giant family of sheep, except there was this one llama amongst them. One lone, super tall llama, just grazing and looking around at the sheep thinking, “Where the hell am I?”
Right now, I am that llama.
And suddenly, I want to run back to that field in Minnesota and grab that llama by its giant neck and hug him and tell him that he’s a super tall sheep. Or maybe I’d tell him that his llama friends back home send their love, but really he should be happy here with the sheep because they get to graze in a very geometric pattern every day and isn’t that wonderful? I’ll tell him that there is a reason he’s there with the sheep, and eventually he’ll learn to love the sheep and he’ll feel like he belongs with them.
But it might take a while and it won’t be easy. And I’ll tell him to smile even if it feels fake.